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August 9, 2005

Turnyourhead.com — Your silhouette in 3-D


What do you see?

Some see a vase.


Some see two faces.

You never see both at once.

But you could.



August 9, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Mutant Extension Cord


You know how they're always finding frogs and turtles with two heads and blaming the deformities on PCBs and what–have–you?

Well, guess what: now the effects are making themselves felt even in the inanimate sphere.

How else to explain the sudden emergence, in 2005, of this bizarro extension cord?

It was in utero, ready to split into two cords, when something interfered with the reading of its genetic code.

Luckily someone was alert enough to notice, then take it to the next level.

Now you can own one.

Quite nifty, actually: two cords in one, each capable of sustaining electrical life on its own.

Each half of the cord gives you three outlets; put two such devices into one wall fixture and suddenly it's party time, with room for twelve.

"Perfect behind bed, sofa, wall unit or entertainment center."

My entertainment center is wherever I happen to be sitting. But I digress.

Each cord is 6 feet long.

In white or brown.

$4.89 here.

August 9, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Measuring Brain Oxygenation Noninvasively


One of the greatest ongoing controversies in 21st–century anesthesiology revolves around the use of cerebral function/brain activity monitors during surgery.

The companies that make them have, for decades, been trumpeting these costly machines as the solution to intraoperative awareness.

Some of the manufacturers have gone as far as to claim that using such a device represents the "standard of care."

Such a claim renders anyone who doesn't adhere to it liable for negligence in a court of law.

Anesthesiologists are not nearly as impressed: most of us find claims of efficacy overstated and also recognize that they can pose a danger to patients.

If you trust the readout that says your patient is too light, it's quite reasonable to increase the depth of anesthesia in response.

Do this one time too many and you'll find yourself pumping on the patient's chest doing CPR during a Code Blue as a result of having taken the blood pressure down to the basement while trying to deepen the patient.

The various brain monitors on the market work by taking raw EEG signals and then using a proprietary algorithm to process them into a signal that purports to measure the depth of anesthesia.

Hamamatsu, a long–established Japanese company working in optics and related fields, has created an alternative approach which appears to this observer potentially more useful than the various cerebral function monitors currently on the market.

What Hamamatsu has done is invent a device which measures brain oxygenation using light.

This seems to me a much better approach than fiddling around trying to calculate the depth of consciousness and anesthesia.

I recall back in the early days of brain monitoring: one day I asked one of our residents who was quite knowledgeable about the monitors what he did when the machine showed that the patient was light.

He smiled, then said, "Unplug it."

That's how useful they were back then.

Things haven't gotten a whole lot better since.

If brain oxygenation is optimal, damage due to hypoxia won't occur.


We use finger monitors to detect arterial oxygenation in the peripheral circulation; such devices work by measuring differential light absorption by oxygenated and nonoxygenated blood.

They are enormously useful and represent the single greatest advance in clinical anesthesia over the past quarter century.

The reason: they offer advance notice of impending hypoxia far enough ahead of catastrophe that they can help avert a disaster.

True, they are prone to false alarms but that's OK: one errs on the side of caution.

Similarly with the Hamamatsu NIRO (Noninvasive Infra–Red Oxygenation) monitor: if it tells me the patient's brain is getting less oxygen, I can turn up the oxygen concentration and increase ventilation.

No harm done even if it was a false alarm.

That's a heckuva lot different than the scenario I noted above involving CPR as the final common pathway.

August 9, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hand–Powered Chain Saw


I've seen pictures of these but haven't been unable to find an online source until today.

The website selling it, KayakAcademy.com, says, "This one works. We've used it to cut through six–inch thick logs."

No reason not to have a fire just because the power's out.

$27 here. (It's the second item down under "Camping Gear.")


Addendum at 11:20 p.m. the same day the post went up:

Reading the comment by one Waldo Jaquith — about whom more another time — on this post, I couldn't figure out what he meant for a few moments.

I mean, I've never owned a chain saw or even used one so it never occurred to me until his comment that Doh! — you don't plug them in.

So I guess what I should have said is, even if you're out of fuel for your Stihl, that doesn't mean you can't build yourself a toasty fire with wood cut by hand rather than machine.

Lame, but it will have to do as it is my bedtime and I need to get my Oreos and glass of milk and go settle down before sleep creeps up on me.

August 9, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



"The one cup coffee lovers weblog."


All the news about the exploding variety and offerings in single serving coffee machines in one place.

Me, I've been using a Senseo (below)


since they came out but the coffee it makes isn't close to what I make first thing in the morning from scratch. (More on that another time.)

I'm waiting patiently for Illy to create its iteration of a single serving coffee — not espresso, they already offer one of those (below) — machine.


[via Kevin Kelly, creator and grand panjandrum of Cool Tools]

August 9, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Day Clock


Probably not the clock for you if — as was the case with me in grade school, junior high, high school, college and medical school — the only way you're able to get through the day is by watching the clock and seeing the minute hand make its slow way around and around until you can finally leave.

But, if you've managed to somehow arise at the blissful place where it's all good then this might be just the ticket.

    From the website:

    The Dayclock is for when you only need to know what day it is.

    Do all of your days seem the same?

    Do you take long trips and forget what day it is?

    It's uniquely designed to keep track of weekly events like your golf day, card, movie night and so much more.

Hey, all of my days seem the same but I like it that way.

"Golf day, card night and movie night?"

Not a problem around here.

$39.98 here.

This clock might be a nice gift if you're friends with a member of the Long Now crüe.

Hey, Stewart — what's your birthday?

August 9, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A miracle is most likely to happen when you least expect it


How else can you summarize the unlikely course of the existence of one Ronald Moore (above), the 57–year–old owner of the French–American Reweaving Company on West 57th Street in New York City?

Back in 1969 he was 21 and still living at the Woodycrest Boys Home, an orphanage in the Bronx where he'd resided since he'd been sent there at 13 after his mother, an alcoholic, had died.

He'd begun working as a delivery boy at French–American at 17, while he was still in high school.

He'd learned how to handle fine garments and helped its founder/owner, Nathan Singer, with the business.

One day in 1969, after he'd worked there for four years, he was caring for a light chiffon blouse and while ironing a crease overheated the material to the point where the whole arm went up in flames.

Moore felt sick.

He expected rage, and that he would be fired.

In Allen Salkin's superb story that appeared in Sunday's New York Times, he quoted Moore as follows: "If you did something wrong in my neighborhood, you got pounded."

Moore continued, "Mr. Singer looked at the situation, and his only reaction was to go about trying to figure out how to solve the problem."

Said Moore, "That opened my eyes up to a new way of human behavior. I was like, 'Wow, wow.'"

Here's the article.

    A Life Mended, Thread by Thread

    Leonard Bernstein's black cashmere Halston cape was moth-eaten.

    So on Nov. 17, 1980, the cape, a signature bit of sartorial dash that Bernstein had worn to parties as well as to the symphony hall, was whisked through the door of the French-American Reweaving Company on West 57th Street.

    Back then, Ronald Moore was just an assistant in the shop, which his boss, Nathan Singer, had opened on Christmas Day 1930.

    Bernstein was living nearby at the Osborne apartment building.

    "To this very day they have problems with moths in that building," Mr. Moore, a bearded, burly man of 56, said on a recent morning as he stood behind the front counter.

    "I still have customers with moth damage from there."

    Mr. Moore knows the secrets that a lot of New Yorkers, including some celebrated ones, have stashed in their closets.

    Like thousands of fine garments before and since, Bernstein's cape was repaired by French-American using the almost-lost art of reweaving.

    Even with 75 years' worth of such anecdotes, the business may not seem like much: a parade of moth holes, cigarette burns, snags and tears (sometimes of the emotional kind).

    But behind the small tales of a shop that fixes fabric is the story of how Mr. Moore, once an orphan in a boys' home in the Bronx, met Mr. Singer, who showed him a new way to live, one thread at a time.

    Mr. Moore was 13 when he was sent to the Woodycrest Boys Home with his brother, Stephen, in 1963.

    Their mother, an alcoholic, had died, and they had never known their father.

    Four years later, when Ronald was still in high school, a friend told him about a part-time job making deliveries for a fabric-repair shop in Manhattan.

    Mr. Singer hired him.

    Soon Mr. Moore began learning the business and about the craft, listening to Mr. Singer explain to customers the two types of repairs the reweavers made.

    Stella Petrakis, 70, demonstrated one of them recently in a back room of French-American's current location, on the 14th floor of 119 West 57th Street.

    Ms. Petrakis, peering through a large magnifying glass, used a special needle with a tiny ball at the tip to pull new threads, one by one, across a half-inch hole in the seat of a pair of trousers, anchoring each thread in the existing fabric.

    When she was done weaving across, she shifted the garment and began putting in another set of threads perpendicular to what she had done, weaving them over and under, trying to replicate the pattern of the original machine-perfect weave.

    This is called a "single thread weave."

    The other type, used for larger holes and for difficult-to-match patterns like plaids, is called a "patch weave."

    Here a piece of matching fabric is cut to fit a hole and then woven into the garment around the edges.

    For either kind of repair, costing $45 to $125 at French-American, the fabric used is usually taken from elsewhere on the garment, often an inside cuff or hem.

    If done right, the weave leaves no trace of the original damage.

    Like Mr. Singer, Mr. Moore never did any reweaving himself.

    Instead he ironed finished garments and helped with the business even as he lived at the orphanage until he was 21, avoiding the kind of troubled life his brother came to know.

    Stephen Moore went to prison for armed robbery and died at 27 when he was hit by a truck while drinking.

    Mr. Moore recalled the moment everything changed in his own life, a few years after he had gone to work for Mr. Singer.

    "I was taking care of a light chiffon blouse," he said.

    "And in my desire to make it perfect, I put an iron to what I thought was a crease and the whole arm of the chiffon blouse went up in flames."

    He felt sick about it, he said.

    He feared he would be fired.

    He expected rage.

    "If you did something wrong in my neighborhood," he said, "you got pounded."

    Instead he got patience.

    "Mr. Singer looked at the situation, and his only reaction was to go about trying to figure out how to solve the problem," Mr. Moore said.

    They found the solution in the Garment District: a matching fabric from which to make a new sleeve.

    "That opened my eyes up to a new way of human behavior," Mr. Moore said.

    "I was like, 'Wow, wow.' "

    The history of the business can be found on thousands of worn, type-written 3-by-5 cards listing the details of every job ever done.

    There is one for the wife of the mobster Frank Costello: Oct. 7, 1946, gray plaid trousers with a tear.

    Another was for "Mrs. Lionel Hampton" - Gladys Hampton - of West 138th Street, on Dec. 3, 1958: a salmon-colored sweater with two holes.

    A black print chiffon gown owned by Happy Rockefeller, the wife of Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller, needed a tear mended on Feb. 26, 1976.

    And the actress Gloria Swanson also came through the doors in the 1970's, with an injured sweater.

    The pattern, however, was too complex to duplicate, Mr. Moore said. Swanson was turned away.

    Not every fabric lends itself to reweaving.

    Silk is one: the fibers are usually too fragile.

    More loosely woven fabrics with simple patterns, like old wool sweaters, take best to fixing.

    And some tears take generations to repair.

    Mr. Singer felt compelled to disguise his Jewish roots when he named the company French-American, Mr. Moore said.

    Besides, he added, " 'French' had a cachet at the time, like French cleaning, French pastry."

    Mr. Moore kept up the illusion.

    In fact he was reluctant to be photographed for this article.

    He hesitated, he said, because many customers deal with him through assistants and messengers and do not know that he is black.

    He said he wanted his customers to treat him as the person they imagine him to be when they phone a business named French-American.

    He changed his mind, he said, because he wants to believe that people are more open-minded than when Mr. Singer and he were young.

    The other day a deliveryman dropped off a suit jacket that a tailor had been custom-making.

    The client was expecting the finished jacket the next day.

    In his haste, the tailor had pricked a hole with a pair of scissors in the front chest panel.

    There was no time to get new fabric or to start over.

    Mr. Moore took it to Ms. Petrakis, who learned the trade a half-century ago in Athens.

    "An emergency job," Mr. Moore told her.

    Ms. Petrakis is one of only two reweavers left at the shop.

    In the 1970's, French-American employed six.

    Now it is nearly impossible to find younger people who know the craft, Mr. Moore said.

    His few remaining competitors agreed.

    "We're dinosaurs," said one, Stuart Butterman, 75, whose shop, Karlton Weavers on West 22nd Street, was incorporated in 1959.

    "This is the last generation of reweaving."

    Mr. Singer, who had learned the trade on the Lower East Side, worked almost until the day he died in 1995 at the age of 88.

    Childless, he gave the business he had worked at for 65 years to Mr. Moore.

    Mr. Moore and his wife, Carolyn, who live in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, have five children, ages 19 to 33, all of whom have gone to college.

    None has expressed an interest in taking over the company, he said, and the business may not survive him.

    "I don't see anyone on the horizon who would come in and carry forth," Mr. Moore said.

    For now he carries on the tradition of his teacher, even handing out the same promotional card that Mr. Singer was using in 1967 on the day he took in a young orphan and gave him the means to make his torn life whole.

    Garments will be mended "skillfully, almost magically," the card says, concluding with the line: "Reweave the tear - have additional wear."

August 9, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

4–Way Rubber Bands


Great tool that's almost impossible to find.

Instead of using two rubber bands and fooling around trying to keep bundles stable, you use one of these specialized elastics and impress all who enter your sphere of influence.

They come in a box of 50 in your choice of five colors: green, red, blue, yellow or natural.

$10.99 here.

But perhaps you've got bigger things in mind: no problema.

You'll want the industrial–strength version below,


featuring two strong, large rubber bands securely joined by a brass clamp.

Excellent for heavy bundling jobs like computer printouts, newspapers or other oversize materials.

I'm buying them to help keep my legal case materials and files together: they're chock full of all manner of loose documents like autopsy, pathology, radiology and lab reports, depositions, letters, affidavits, and all the other paraphernalia that accompanies the law in its slow passage toward justice.

The large iteration is sold here in bags of 50, in three different lengths and colors:

8"– Red: $15.49

9"– Natural: $19.09

10"– Blue: $21.14

August 9, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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